“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
— Ayn Rand
“This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
— Neil Armstrong
Have you ever felt that indescribable feeling when your mind and heart are totally in sync, and a sense of wellbeing and purpose permeates all your actions and ideas? Unplugging from technology and reconnecting with people in real time, and with yourself, can do that! I’d forgotten how refreshing it is to take a step back, a detour, and just be 🙂 I’m back from my digital detox and can honestly say that I had noticeable success in rebooting my mindset and my mojo. I had time to think, to process what I have learned as both a human being and entrepreneur, and to reassess; my life plan, my business plan, my startup ecosystem both online and offline, and all the possible paths in between. I even made time to continue my quest for knowledge, for understanding how to better balance between humanity and technology. I don’t think I’m alone in expressing the desire for staying “in the learning loop” and for achieving purpose and better work/life and humanity/tech balance overall. This lovely infographic of one of my heroes, Dr. Temple Grandin, makes my point.
I recently saw the film Transcendence, a thoughtful, rather creepy but intelligent fable about the perils of machine learning (artificial intelligence-AI) and the power of the human need to interface with others; and with the environment. As a Mac and iPad Evangelist from way back when, and a proud “techie”, I am fascinated with machine learning and its implication for entrepreneurship and education. I wrote more about that in my Tumblr blog in January, which you can read here and here. Transcendence puts its own spin on consciousness and machine learning, but at its heart, it is really about human learning and human beings; two in particular. It’s a futuristic love story with moral and scientific undertones, which provides much food for thought long after the credits roll. The movie is truly well done (better than Her) and makes abstract concepts such as decision making, human intuition, human consciousness and The Singularity more concrete, and raises great questions about the true meaning of Theory of Mind (empathy and perspective gleaned from episodic memory) and self awareness.
What’s really disquieting is the realization that tweaking artificial intelligence is no longer just about intellect. It’s about emotion and empathy as well; something seen from the controversy surrounding Google Glass. Wearable tech and healthcare related tech advances are on the rise because of the empathy factor, something women entrepreneurs have in spades. Biotech and other tech breakthroughs are imminent, and the science and political landscape of Transcendence is not that farfetched! The NIH is looking to kickstart biotech startups. Advanced tech will soon bring virtual reality gaming to the masses. The futuristic vision of smart cities is starting to become more clear. The present trends in the technology arena are shaping entrepreneurial opportunity and disruptive innovation for the next decade and on.
It all begins with questioning. The status quo. The need for specific services/products. The purpose and self worth of people on an individual and collective level. Asking these questions is at the root of entrepreneurial opportunity and self-actualization; something seen from maverick thinkers and entrepreneurs like Oprah, JK Rowling, Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk, just to name a few.
What I really liked about Transcendence is that it highlights the importance of this type of questioning. Everything. People need to ask more questions, of themselves, and of each other. I belong to the school of questioners, and enrolled in it at a young age when I began asking “why not?”, not just why. It’s why I advocate for play as part of Autism intervention. It’s why I advocate for female entrepreneurship. It’s why I wrote my book, The NICE Reboot. Asking questions forestalls inertia and stagnant thinking. It fosters intellectual curiosity and emotional resonance and empathy for others. It helps a person remain humble, and a work in progress; something I hope to be as both a human being and entrepreneur.
So which questions are showcased in Transcendence, and what are the ramifications for entrepreneurship?
I will continue this post next week but will leave you with 5 questions to ponder, and 5 implications:
1. Do you ever really know another person? Implications for social media avatars and digital marketing trends i.e. storytelling2. What does it mean to truly connect with others and understand their needs? Implications for marketing and problem solving3. Are you self aware, how do you know? Implications for the ‘trep mindset and journey vs. outcome4. How can technology be harnessed to further humanity? Implications for ed-tech startups and mobile app development, especially in healthcare and underdeveloped countries5. Is the Internet the great equalizer because of ease of communication or because of ease of content curation? Implications for the glass ceiling and women entrepreneurship and thought leadership, especially in the current blogosphere